FEMA to reimburse families for last year's COVID-related funeral expenses

MICHELLE STODDART and MATTHEW VANN
·2 min read
FEMA to reimburse families for last year's COVID-related funeral expenses

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday that it will reimburse families for funeral expenses of loved ones who died last year from COVID-19.

PHOTO: Candy Boyd, owner of the Boyd Funeral home, speaks during an interview next to an empty casket and cabinets built for expanded storage capacity of embalmed bodies awaiting burial due to the surge of Covid-19 deaths on Jan. 14, 2021 in Los Angeles. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Candy Boyd, owner of the Boyd Funeral home, speaks during an interview next to an empty casket and cabinets built for expanded storage capacity of embalmed bodies awaiting burial due to the surge of Covid-19 deaths on Jan. 14, 2021 in Los Angeles. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)

The agency said, beginning in April, it would pay up to $9,000 in expenses for individual funerals and that Americans who lost multiple family members can apply for up to a maximum of $35,000.

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FEMA has set aside $2 billion dollars to reimburse “individuals and households” for funeral expenses between Jan. 20 and Dec. 31, 2020.

The money was allocated in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.

PHOTO: Lila Blanks is comforted by the casket of her husband, Gregory Blanks, 50, who died from complications from the coronavirus disease, in San Felipe, Texas, Jan. 26, 2021. (Callaghan O'hare/Reuters)
PHOTO: Lila Blanks is comforted by the casket of her husband, Gregory Blanks, 50, who died from complications from the coronavirus disease, in San Felipe, Texas, Jan. 26, 2021. (Callaghan O'hare/Reuters)

The agency said it is establishing a hotline and full-scale call center for individuals in the coming weeks, but encouraged Americans looking to apply to gather documents like death certificates, receipts and expense documents and documentation of funds from other sources.

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FEMA said it hopes to "help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic."

"With empathy being the priority, we want to be able to case manage and have that human-to-human interaction as we do this and make sure that we do it in a way that supports everyone's needs," acting FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton told the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee on Tuesday.

PHOTO: James Harvey tends tends to the inventory of pre-sold caskets at a funeral home on April 29, 2020 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
PHOTO: James Harvey tends tends to the inventory of pre-sold caskets at a funeral home on April 29, 2020 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

"At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters," Fenton said in a press release Wednesday. "The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate."

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The agency usually provides funding for funeral expenses related to natural disasters, but the more than 500,000 American lives lost to the pandemic greatly outnumbers the death toll in other disasters.

FEMA to reimburse families for last year's COVID-related funeral expenses originally appeared on abcnews.go.com